I feel like my headphone wires. Tightly woven. Tangled. A hodgepodge of entrapment. The only thing that alleviates this mental madness of peak week is…actually peaking. Stepping on stage. That is where the unraveling begins. Bit by bit, step by step, pose by pose. It all flows. 

How did I get here? Don’t you ask that when you reach into your gym bag or purse and grab your headphones? Don’t you ask: “I put you in there untangled, wrapped neatly. How did you manage to get yourself into this mess?” I ask myself the very same thing. I put myself into the gym in college in this nice, neat little package called, “trying it on for size.” I guess I didn’t realize just how literal that statement would become as each year I altered, trimmed, expanded, sculpted my birthday suit…the one suit that only I alone can sew.

Bodybuilding is a specific, detail-oriented, selfish “sport.” It requires a person to put everything into nice, neat little boxes in order to chip away each day. Bodybuilders are walking, talking, breathing “slash-and-burn” bodies. We rage pain, anguish, fire unto our muscle fibers and our souls. One section at a time. Burning and resting. Smoldering and holding steady before walking away to lay waste on another section of our smoking bodies.

There is a sense of futility in this. When growing crops–fertilizing and tilling the land–the job is never done. Eventually that section of earth will recover and be ready for seeds to plant and growth to flourish. And so we, just like the farmers, repeatedly come back to destroy the area again. The ultimate Phoenix Rising. It begs the question: “How do you know when you are done?”

I do. Know. I don’t.

How does a painter know he is done? How does a writer know she is done? There just comes a point when the artist must stop, breathe, step away, clasp hands together, and say with finality: “This is it. It’s all I’ve got. It just must be.”

Hence the futility. Hence the tangled wires. Hence the need to unravel, pack up, and do it all over again.

I hope I unravel well. I’ve taken my time, my little fingers working nimbly to pull a wire through this hole and thread the other wire through that hole until all the knots are…not. And I. I…am.

I am.

I truly am.